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Rural Alaska

First ads of the 2020 U.S. census are launched in Alaska villages

  • Author: Mike Schneider, Associated Press
  • Updated: December 26, 2019
  • Published December 26, 2019

FILE - This March 23, 2018, file photo shows an envelope containing a 2018 census letter mailed to a U.S. resident as part of the nation's only test run of the 2020 Census. Legal wrangling has surrounded the U.S. census count for decades, culminating in this year’s fight over adding a citizenship question. (AP Photo/Michelle R. Smith, File)

The first ads for the 2020 census were launched this week in remote parts of Alaska, the U.S. Census Bureau said Thursday.

The advertising is aimed at residents of 220 largely Alaska Native villages where census takers will begin the once-a-decade headcount next month.

The count begins in January in these villages because the ground is frozen, allowing easier access than at other times of the year. The kickoff is the third week in January in Toksook Bay, a village on the Bering Sea coast west of Bethel.

The rest of the country will see an ad campaign starting next month, and residents will begin filling out the 2020 census questionnaire in March.

This is the first year the Census Bureau has aired ads targeting the residents of Alaska villages. The campaign includes full-page print ads, commercial signage, posters, radio ads and digital content.

Nationwide, the Census Bureau plans to spend $500 million on a communications campaign to get people to answer the questionnaire. For the first time, the agency is encouraging a majority of participants to fill it out online, though it can also be filled out by telephone or on a paper form to be mailed in.

The 2020 census will determine how many congressional seats each state gets as well as direct the distribution of $1.5 trillion in federal spending.